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Patient with Neck Surgery Still Able to be Helped by Chiropractic According to Study
A case study published on February 4, 2023, in Cureus, and on the U.S. National Library of Medicine's National Center for Biotechnology Information documented the improvement under chiropractic care of a patient suffering from neck pain who had previously had significant neck surgery.
Neck surgery is a serious procedure. There is ongoing discussion in healthcare concerning the effectiveness of neck surgery in the long term. Studies have shown that patients who seek chiropractic care first for musculoskeletal pain such as neck or back pain, are less likely to have spinal surgery. However, there are many patients who receive spinal surgery first, and only seek chiropractic care after ongoing problems cannot be resolved medically.
In this case, a 66-year-old woman sought chiropractic care due to her incapacitating neck pain. The woman also had a significant head tilt and was suffering with muscle spasms and headaches. She was getting progressively worse over the prior six months and received no relief from the acetaminophen and tramadol she was taking, or the physical therapy she was receiving.
The woman's history showed that, at age 14, she suddenly developed severe neck pain, torticollis, and headaches which were made worse by sneezing or neck movements and were slightly better if she held her head with her hands. She was eventually diagnosed with "rotatory instability" of the top two bones in her neck. She was first unsuccessfully treated using 24-hour halo traction for six months. She was then placed in a body cast which ran from her head to her hips, leaving only her face exposed for an additional six months. However, she continued to get worse. She did not receive, nor was she offered any chiropractic care at that time.
Finally, by age 16, the girl received neck fusion surgery of the first and second bone in the neck. After the surgery, the girl experienced severe bilateral lower extremity weakness and was unable to walk, requiring the use of a wheelchair for three months. By six months after the surgery, the girl had reportedly made a slow but near full recovery. She continued to have some abnormal sensations in the lower half of her body and in her legs.
Years later at age 60, the woman tripped and fell. Afterwards, she developed neck pain, headaches, and involuntary jerking neck movements. These problems continued to get worse, even resulting in a visit to the ER. None of the medications or therapies she received over the next few years seemed to help, so she finally decided to seek chiropractic care.
After a chiropractic examination and CT scans of her neck, specific and appropriate forms of chiropractic care were started. After only one week of care, the patient reported that her pain reduced on a 1 to 10 scale, from a 7/10 down to only a 3/10. Additionally, the sensation she was having in her lower body had disappeared.
In their conclusion the authors wrote, "This case presents an older woman with chronic progressively worsening neck pain and headache and a history of posterior surgical fusion of C1/2 who improved with multimodal chiropractic therapies including SMT."
Resolution of Otitis Media & Developmental Delays Following Chiropractic Care in a Boy with Birth Trauma
The title above is from a case study published on February 21, 2023, in the Journal of Pediatric, Maternal & Family Health that documents the correction of ear infections and developmental delays because of chiropractic care.
The author of this case study begins by noting that "Speech and language development are useful indicators of a child's overall development and cognitive ability and is related to school success." She continued, "Speech and language disorders are the most common developmental problems among preschool children."
One of the reasons noted for language delay can be hearing loss caused by otitis media with effusion (OME). This is a condition where fluid collects in the middle ear without any signs or symptoms of an acute ear infection, and typically develops after there has been an acute ear infection with fever and pain.
In this case, a 12-month-old boy was brought to the chiropractor. The boy's major issues were altered crawling and developmental delays. The history revealed that the boy was born 5 days early by an emergency cesarean section delivery. Due to lung and blood issues, the baby boy was kept in the hospital in a neonatal intensive care unit for seven days after his birth. During his hospital stay, a series of other medical issues developed which required medications and one surgery.
After his initial problems, it was noticed over the next several months that the child was having problems crawling. As he got older, it was noted that he had significant delays in his speech ability as well as many other developmental benchmarks. His parents attempted to seek help for their son in the form of developmental therapy and speech therapy.
After a chiropractic examination, the boy was diagnosed with vertebral subluxation complex (VSC). Chiropractic care (appropriate to the boy's age and size) was started to address the subluxations.
The author explains the purpose of subluxation care in cases like this by stating, " The principles of the vertebral subluxation are as follows: The body is a self-regulating, self-maintaining organism; The nervous system controls and coordinates all functions of the body; The spine and vertebrae house and protect the nervous system; Vertebral subluxations can occur and interfere with the function of the nervous system; Reducing and/or correcting vertebral subluxations allows the nervous system to function better and allows the fullest expression of life."
The study reports that, over time, the boy's speech improved and his vocabulary increased. The boy also improved in his motor skills and was able to crawl better. The boy's sleeping improved and he was more responsive to his mother's voice. The fluid in his ears cleared and he continued to progress and improve at the writing of this study.
In her conclusion, the author wrote, "This case illustrates how chiropractic can be an option for children not only suffering with OME and are experiencing developmental delays but can help with other childhood issues or diseases. Alternative methods should be researched thoroughly that are low risk like chiropractic before seeking other methods of treatment such as antibiotics or surgery, which would be considered higher risk."
Study Shows Car Accident Causes Loss of Neck Curve and is Corrected by Chiropractic
The Journal of Physical Therapy Science published the results of a case study on March 1, 2023, showing that an automobile accident caused a loss of normal neck curvature. The study also documented the restoration of neck curve with chiropractic care.
When viewed from the side, a neck x-ray should show that there is a smooth forward curvature. This curve helps the neck absorb shock and helps properly support the head. Studies have shown that a loss of the normal forward curvature can contribute to a variety of health issues. There have been many case studies in scientific journals that document chiropractic care improving or restoring the normal curve, and therefore having a positive impact on health and quality of life.
There have been many cases where a patient has gone to a chiropractor after an automobile accident and their x-rays showed a loss of neck curvature. In most of these cases, x-rays were taken after the accident so it was difficult to prove that the accident caused the loss of neck curve as opposed to the curve having been reduced prior to the accident.
The case provided in this study offered a unique perspective because the patient was under chiropractic care months before their accident, as well as after their accident. In each instance, initial x-rays were taken at the onset of care, as well as a follow-up to monitor the progress.
In this case, a 16-year-old boy originally went to the chiropractor for lower back pain not related to any sort of accident. A chiropractic examination and x-rays were performed. It was demonstrated on x-rays that there was a loss of neck curvature. Chiropractic care was started to address the spinal subluxations including the loss of a normal neck curve. Several months later, a second set of x-rays were taken which showed that the boy's neck curve had dramatically improved as had his original pain.
Months later, after the original chiropractic care, the boy was involved in an automobile accident. He returned to the chiropractor and received another examination and new spinal x-rays. This time, the x-rays showed that the improvements that were gained were lost and the boy's neck had once again lost most of the normal forward curvature.
Specific forms of chiropractic care were again started to address the boy's new issues from the automobile accident and the new loss of neck curvature. Once again, after several months of chiropractic care, follow-up x-rays were able to verify that the boy's neck had again improved to a near-normal curvature. Additionally, a third set of follow-up x-rays were taken months later which showed that the curve improvement was still present.
The study authors commented, "This case illustrates how a whiplash event occurring during a motor vehicle collision subluxated the cervical spine." With the documentation provided by pre and post x-rays for both care rendered before and after the automobile accident, it is possible to show that a car accident can indeed cause a loss of curvature, and that specific chiropractic care can help correct it.
Subluxation is a Common Term in Healthcare
The Asian-Pacific Chiropractic Journal published a report in their 2023 first quarter journal showing that the term "subluxation" is not only a key part of the chiropractic terminology, but also well used in other health professions. The title of the report is, "The Chiropractic Subluxation: Medical evidence in support of the subluxation construct."
The report authors begin by stating, "This presentation serves to demonstrate the widespread use and acceptance of the term subluxation." They continue, "The 'vertebral subluxation' is one of two keystones in chiropractic and has been for its entire 127-year history since its foundation. The other term is 'adjustment' which may be identified as a refined and specific form of the more generalized generic term, 'manipulation'."
Although the term "subluxation" may have slightly different interpretations in the medical field when compared to chiropractic, the chiropractic profession uses this term more than all others. The more exact term, vertebral subluxation, is meant to not just mean a bone out of proper alignment in the spine, but also the neurological effects of the spinal misalignment. Given the vast number of mechanisms the subluxation can affect on human physiology, the most exact term using in chiropractic is the "vertebral subluxation complex."
The report authors point out that the other health professions including medicine, have over 500 synonyms, euphemisms, or other terms related to the basic constructs of the chiropractic use of the term subluxation. Many of the medically used terms are based upon research supporting the basic chiropractic premise. The report authors point out, "There is noted evidence of medical use of chiropractic concepts particularly in European medicine, with many medical journals incorporating papers on these concepts, far more than in English language medical journals."
The authors reference many medical texts, including Gray's Anatomy, that clearly speak to the basic understanding of the subluxation. Many of these books even acknowledge chiropractic as the major healthcare system addressing subluxation.
The report emphasizes the importance of unique terminology for any health profession to continue to offer a unique service to the public. "The emergence of any new health profession may be identified by its unique title. Similarly, its uniqueness may be identified by its distinct use of particular terminology otherwise it could hardly be regarded as being different to any other profession. Consequently, chiropractic has developed two particularly distinctive terms; the 'vertebral subluxation' and the 'vertebral adjustment'."
After reviewing all the various professions that use either the term subluxation, or a similar term that has the same meaning, the authors of this report concluded, "The evidence we have presented indicates that medicine, osteopathy, and physiotherapy have all used the term 'subluxation' in the chiropractic sense. However, the more appropriate, and inclusive descriptive term of vertebral subluxation complex is widely adopted in chiropractic and the WHO ICD-10."
Dr. Robert Braile, a chiropractor and past president of the International Chiropractors Association, commented on this report by saying, "The bottom line is that subluxation is a scientific, provable, and clinically important entity in healthcare. Most professions either directly use the term subluxation with a similar meaning as chiropractors, or they use a different term that has almost an identical meaning. Regardless of what term is used, it is important that vertebral subluxation is addressed and corrected."